Worcestershire sauce is famous for two things: its umami flavor and the confusion surrounding its pronunciation. To avoid being tongue-tied, this versatile sauce is pronounced as “wu-stuh-shr”. But aside from its unique name, many can’t help but wonder, what does Worcestershire sauce do?
In this post, I will share some of the basic uses of this condiment and how you can maximize it for your recipes.
What’s Worcestershire sauce?
Worcestershire sauce was first invented in 1835 by two chemists whose names surely ring a bell: Lea and Perrins. John Wheeley Lea and William Henry Perrins created a concoction that turned out to be the delicious Worcestershire sauce that we have today.
This sauce got its name from the city of Worcester, where it’s first created.
In terms of ingredients, Worcestershire sauce is mainly made of a vinegar base. It’s fermented with tamarind, molasses, anchovies, garlic, onion, and other spices.
Overall, this mixture provides a sweet and savory flavor to Worcestershire sauce. Due to the ingredients, the standard formulation of Worcestershire sauce isn’t suitable for vegan and diets.
Due to the varying dietary requirements of consumers, manufacturers have come up with Worcestershire sauce variations. You can now find vegetarian, gluten-free, and low-sodium varieties.
However, one interesting thing about Worcestershire sauce is that the original UK recipe is different from the ones sold in the United States. Those sold in the US have more sugar, salt, and use distilled white vinegar. This makes the American Worcestershire sauce sweeter and saltier.
What does Worcestershire sauce do?
Worcestershire sauce won’t be a massive hit if not for its versatile taste. It can be used for countless dishes and recipes, so a bottle is surely worth the purchase.
If you’re someone who’s still learning his way around the kitchen, you’re probably wondering what this sauce can do. Below are some of the most common uses of Worcestershire sauce that you can also try:
1. It’s an ingredient for drinks!
Due to its flavor, it’s widely known that Worcestershire sauce is used for savory dishes. However, one thing that many don’t know is that this sauce is actually the main ingredient in a popular drink called Bloody Mary.
Bloody Mary is a drink made of vodka, lemon juice, and tomato juice. And to complete the ensemble, you need to add three dashes of Worcestershire sauce with Tabasco if you want it spicy.
Whether it’s in your kitchen or a DIY home bar, your Worcestershire sauce will get its rightful place.
Aside from Bloody Mary, Worcestershire sauce is also used in a Mexican drink called Michelada. It’s made with beer and lime juice together with a variety of sauces. It can be Worcestershire, chili sauce, or anything similar. It’s also served in a salt-rimmed glass.
2. It’s a top marinade condiment.
If your BBQ marinade doesn’t have Worcestershire sauce, I don’t want it.
Worcestershire sauce is the quintessential marinade superstar. It’s packed with umami that gets into the core of the meat. So once grilled, the sauce will mix well with the natural juices of the meat for a mouth-watering flavor.
Most of the time, Worcestershire sauce will be mixed with spices like pepper, chili, garlic powder, turmeric, and so on. You’re free to blend whatever spices your heart desires.
If you don’t have the time to mix spices, Worcestershire sauce will save the day. It will inject a punch of flavor into your barbecue without too much work.
3. It adds life to chilis and soups.
Worcestershire sauce is also widely used to add flavor to soups and chilis. Its umami flavor blends well with chili con carne and thick soups.
Moreover, the sauce’s taste helps balance the richness of savory dishes, so it doesn’t get too overwhelming. The wonderful part is that most people won’t be able to pick up the taste of Worcestershire sauce since it blends well with other ingredients.
4. It makes a great dip.
You can also utilize Worcestershire sauce on your dips and sauces. It’s a great flavoring for barbecue dips as well as a simple dip for your chips.
If you’re using other spices for your dip, you should be modest in the amount of Worcestershire sauce you’re going to use. This way, it won’t make the dip too salty or rich.
5. It goes well with salads.
Is your salad too bland or boring? A dash of Worcestershire sauce might be the only thing you need!
The anchovy in Worcestershire sauce delivers a savory punch that complements Caesar salad. It works well in both the grilled and classic variants.
6. It’s a great pair with cheesy meals.
Lastly, you can add Worcestershire sauce to your cheesy meals like pastas. Since too much cheese can be overly rich to taste, a small amount of this sauce can help balance the taste. Just a few drops would be enough for most solo servings of pastas.
Overall, you’re free to experiment on how you’ll incorporate Worcestershire sauce into your meals.
Does Worcestershire go bad?
Most Worcestershire sauce has a three-year shelf life. This is if the sauce is kept refrigerated and away from moisture and sunlight.
But how can you tell if your Worcestershire sauce has gone bad? Here are a few things you should watch out for:
The tell-tale sign that your Worcestershire sauce has gone bad is when it already has a bad taste. Also, the sauce should be thrown away if the flavor is already flat or fading. This is a sign that the ingredients are already disintegrating.
The unpleasant taste may also indicate that the sauce is already unsafe to consume. You may experience stomach upset if you still use a bad Worcestershire sauce.
⚠️Presence of molds
If you can see a mold-like formation inside the bottle, you should throw away your Worcestershire sauce. Molds will cause stomach upset and a slew of other bad effects when consumed.
Overall, molds aren’t very common in Worcestershire sauce since it’s packed with preservatives. Still, it can happen, especially for poorly stored bottles.
Worcestershire sauce has a mild fishy smell due to the anchovy ingredient. It’s also somewhat reminiscent of soy sauce. Overall, it should have a palatable smell.
If your Worcestershire sauce has a spoiled smell or if the odor changed, it’s best to dispose of it. The change in smell is a sign that the ingredients are already unsuitable for consumption.
⚠️Formation of gas
Since Worcestershire sauce has molasses, it can accumulate gas over time. If stored in a plastic bottle, the container will swell and puff as the gas forms inside.
And when you open the lid, you’ll hear a loud popping noise. In some cases, the bottle will burst, though this is quite rare.
How can I extend the shelf life of my Worcestershire sauce?
To extend the shelf life of your Worcestershire sauce, here are the things you should do:
- Keep it sealed. Once you opened a bottle of Worcestershire sauce, you should keep its lid tightly sealed. This is to prevent moisture, mold spores, and air from spoiling the sauce.
- Put it in the fridge. After opening, you should keep the sauce inside the fridge. The cold temperature will help the ingredients last longer compared to leaving the sauce in a warm spot in your kitchen.
- Choose a dark spot. If you can’t place the Worcestershire sauce in the fridge, you should place it in a dark spot, preferably inside cabinets or drawers. This is because sunlight can shorten the lifespan of the sauce’s ingredients. Your pantry is also a good spot if your fridge is running out of space.
- Buy Worcestershire sauce in small amounts. If you’re only using the sauce once in a while, it’s best to buy the condiment in small bottles. This way, the sauce won’t go bad due to old age.
What happens if you eat bad Worcestershire sauce?
You’re not supposed to consume any condiment that has gone bad. Nevertheless, eating a small amount of expired Worcestershire sauce is unlikely to cause any serious health problems. This is unless you have a sensitive tummy or if the sauce has been on the shelf for longer than you can remember.
While you won’t drop dead eating expired Worcestershire sauce, it’s still best to get rid of it. Besides, its taste is no longer as good as it should be. Your food won’t get the best flavor, so you’re better off buying a new bottle.
What are Worcestershire sauce substitutes?
Did you run out of Worcestershire sauce for your recipe? If so, the following are some of the alternatives you can try:
- Soy sauce. The closest thing you can substitute to Worcestershire sauce is soy sauce. While it doesn’t have the same umami taste, soy sauce still packs a lot of flavors. It also complements dishes to where Worcestershire sauce is often used.
- Miso paste and water. Both Worcestershire sauce and miso paste are fermented condiments. This makes the latter a great substitute in case you run out of sauce. Just make sure that you dilute it in water first to prevent the flavor from being too rich.
- Fish sauce. If you prefer Worcestershire sauce with a strong anchovy taste, a great substitute would be fish sauce. However, since the fish sauce is pungent, you shouldn’t use it for your Bloody Marys and Micheladas.
- Oyster sauce. If you’re craving umami, you can try using the oyster sauce as a substitute for Worcestershire sauce. However, you should remember that oyster sauce has a thicker consistency, so you should avoid using it on light or thin dressings.
- Dry sherry. While it sounds like a bit of a stretch, dry sherry can be used in place of Worcestershire sauce, especially when making drinks. It has a yeasty and earthy flavor, though not as spicy or umami as the sauce.
- Sherry vinegar. Sherry vinegar has a sour, malty, and sweet taste that can be used if you don’t have Worcestershire sauce. However, you should only use it for savory meals and not for drinks.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Does Worcestershire sauce have to be refrigerated?
A: It’s not necessary to store your Worcestershire sauce in the fridge, but it’s still a wise move. The cold temperature will prevent spoilage, especially if you live in a place with a humid climate. Nevertheless, most Worcestershire sauces in the market are already blended with preservatives to give them a longer shelf life.
Q: Does Worcestershire sauce have fish in it?
A: Many Worcestershire sauce products have anchovies as an ingredient. If you have a fish allergy, you’re better off avoiding this sauce. This is unless you can find one that’s fish-free. The same goes for vegetarians who don’t eat meat, including fish.
Q: Can babies eat Worcestershire sauce?
A: Worcestershire sauce is packed with sodium that’s not ideal for babies. This is why you should never give this sauce to your child until they are older. Even if that’s the case, you should use Worcestershire sauce in moderation due to its high salt content.
Q: Is Worcestershire sauce healthy?
A: Worcestershire sauce has nutrients in it, but you should also remember that it has high sodium content. This is why you should still use it in moderation. If you want to add more flavor to your food, consider using natural spices and herbs instead.
Q: Is Worcestershire sauce healthier than soy sauce?
A: If we are to compare typical soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce products in the market, the former has a better advantage. In general, soy sauce has less sugar and it’s also higher in potassium than Worcestershire sauce. You’ll also get more vitamins from soy sauce, though it doesn’t erase the fact that this condiment is still high in sodium.
What does Worcestershire sauce do? It’s a very versatile condiment that can be used for savory dishes and drinks alike. This sauce is packed with umami, which can turn any meal into a tasty and flavorful dish.
Still, Worcestershire sauce is high in sodium, so you should use it moderately. Nevertheless, a dash of Worcestershire sauce from time to time wouldn’t hurt.